Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced a federal partnership launching Aug. 6 that will cut down the turnaround time on COVID-19 tests administered at the county's two stationary testing sites to 3-5 days.
Many of the tests being provided by the federal government for use in Harris County were previously taking as long as two weeks before individuals got their results, Hidalgo said at an Aug. 4 press conference.
Hidalgo said the faster turnaround times will help individuals getting tested as well as public health officials who use contact tracing to try to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
"The testing turnaround times are key for everyone," she said. "If it takes us a week or two weeks to get the results, by then, it's almost pointless. You’ve already had many, many contacts for that one person that has the virus."
The two testing sites where the new tests will be available are San Jacinto College Central Campus, 8060 Spencer Hwy., Pasadena, and Pridgeon Stadium, 11355 Falcon Road, Houston. They will be available starting Aug. 6, and residents can begin signing up for testing appointments on Aug. 5.
The county is receiving 30,000 tests through the partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Texas Department of State Health Services. Hidalgo said the county uses around 1,000-1,500 tests per day, so the tests will likely last for several weeks.
However, Hidalgo said the county has also identified labs that can turn tests around faster and plans to begin using those labs once the federal tests run out.
"We’ve been scouring the country for [labs] for the past few weeks, so even when we run out of these 30,000 tests, we’ll be able to continue the testing with this faster turnaround time," she said.
The county will also begin offering tests during evening hours on certain days in an effort to reach individuals who are not able to get tested during daytime hours. Testing will be available at the San Jacinto and Pridgeon Stadium sites between 4-8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays starting Aug. 6, Hidalgo said.
Individuals can sign up for testing online or by calling 832-925-7575.
Harris County announces evening testing hours, faster turnaround on COVID-19 tests
With some Harris County residents waiting up to two weeks to get test results, the county has announced a maximum turnaround time of 3-5 days on county-sponsored tests moving forward. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)